Democrats are furious at Ducey’s response about Trump. It means his strategy is spot-on

Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Gov. Doug Ducey answers questions from reporters at the Arizona Counter Terrorism and Information Center in Phoenix on Oct. 4, 2021.

Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Gov. Doug Ducey answers questions from reporters at the Arizona Counter Terrorism and Information Center in Phoenix on Oct. 4, 2021.

You could tell Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey occupied the strategic high ground in the battle for the soul of the Republican Party when he went on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday and refused to bite on the question: Would he support another Donald Trump run for president.

Ducey demurred, and afterwards all the right people were attacking him in this intraparty struggle.

To wit, the people outside the party.

The liberals.

One by one, they heaped their scorn.

“What does it tell you about the state of the Republican cult that Doug Ducey would support an insurrectionist, seditionist and traitor for president?” tweeted Norm Ornstein, left-wing political scientist.

“Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey won’t rule out supporting Trump in 2024 (despite the fact that Trump has called him ‘one of the worst governors in America’),” tweeted progressive journalist Aaron Rupar.

“It’s both embarrassing and frightening how Republican politicians like Doug Ducey have been bullied into subservience by a fascist demagogue. What a stain on our nation,” tweeted Mark Jacob, former metro editor of the Chicago Tribune.

If opinions are cheap, this was the dollar store. You would have to know little about Arizona and Republican Party politics to have deduced any of that.

It tells you what Ducey’s tactic is ultimately about — defeating the Democratic Party and its liberal enthusiasts.

The 3 camps of Republican Party post-Trump

After the meteor known as Donald Trump struck the Republican Party in 2015, the party split into three distinct camps.

There was the All-In faction that stayed true to Trump even after his madcap effort to reverse the last election, his incitement of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, his two impeachments and his loss in the 2020 election. They would support Trump even if he stood in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shot them.

Next was the #NeverTrump faction that wants to destroy the party to save it.

And finally there was the Finesse Trump faction that recognizes the GOP has to move beyond Trump without handing the next decade of elections to the progressive left. This wing understands you cannot destroy the party to save it, because the Democrats would gleefully help you.

The GOP camp that would finesse Trump and move on was well represented by Ducey on Sunday. He told the nation that Kari Lake, the Republican who has Trump’s endorsement and leads the polls to replace Ducey, is a fraud.

She projects that she’s all in, that she would take a 5th-Avenue bullet from Trump and still shine his boots. And maybe that’s true, because the two are in many ways the same shape-shifters. Back in the day when Trump was cutting checks to Hillary Clinton; Lake was cutting checks to Barack Obama.

Ducey told CNN he is not focused on the 2024 election and thus would not declare support for anyone in that race, but he noted – and this was telling, you liberal pundits — there are alternatives.

Ducey a part of strong bench of GOP governors

Among them is a strong bench of sitting and former Republican governors such as Florida’s Ron DeSantis, Indiana’s Mike Pence, Georgia’s Brian Kemp, Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin and even Arizona’s Doug Ducey.

DeSantis is the big dog who threatens to replace Trump, ignoring his slights and insults all the while. The only proof you need to know that DeSantis represents a serious threat to Democrats, is the constant fire he’s been drawing from liberal national media and politicians such as California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who targeted him with a Fourth of July attack ad.

Florida Democrats know DeSantis is trouble. He has amassed a campaign chest of $130.4 million in his run for reelection, reported longtime Florida political journalist Marc Caputo on Friday. “We’ve never seen that in Florida. Has any candidate in any other state ever had that much in the bank?”

At their 3-day convention in Tampa this past weekend, Florida Democrats yucked it up and cracked jokes about the Republicans, reported Politico.

“Privately, however, there was a sense of fatalism among state Democrats, who are heading into the 2022 midterms with an unpopular president, the highest inflation in 40 years and incumbents such as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis raking in millions and seeming unstoppable.

“Adding to their problems is a dearth of national donor groups that have limited how much they’re willing to give to candidates after Democrats have suffered multiple defeats in recent election cycles. ‘Nobody is coming to save us,’ state Rep. Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa), the incoming House Democratic leader, said during a Saturday morning session held by Florida Black Democrats.”

Democrats badly want to run against Trump

Nationally the Democrats have been funding extreme conservatives in Republican primaries, hoping they will be trounced by Democrats in the general elections.

The Democrats would love nothing more than for Trump to make it official and announce soon that he is running again for president, Politico reported on Friday.

The Capitol Hill news site spoke with more than two dozen Democratic officials who told them a Trump announcement will be a “positive development for the (Democratic) party, if not a game-changer,” and that already Democratic campaigns are pre-drafting fundraising pitches in hopes of generating millions of dollars off a Trump launch.

“It’s bad for (the Republicans) because he takes so much oxygen out of the room,” John Anzalone, a longtime Biden pollster, told Politico. “More people think (Trump) should be charged with a crime. Individual things about his actions and comments have come out. All that stuff has hurt him. In general, he will want to be front and center and that’s not good for Republicans because the public is against him.

“So come on in,” Anzalone prodded. “Jump in the pool.”

If Republicans elect Kari Lake to run in the general election, Arizona Democrats will be popping corks. She has spent a good part of her campaign attacking fellow Republicans, accusing Fox News of mistreating her, sullying John McCain’s legacy and intimating that her fellow Republicans may try to rig the primary election against her.

If Ducey stands against all that, if he doesn’t want to serve up Donald Trump’s next clay pigeon for Democrats to blast out of the sky, is it any wonder the liberal pundits are angry?

Phil Boas is an editorial columnist for The Arizona Republic. Email him at [email protected]

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Reason Dems are furious at Ducey over Trump is not what you think

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